Join Our Toolkit Tour

Revitalizing Appalachia: A toolkit for clean-up and community development

What’s it all about?
The Alliance for Appalachia is a grassroots coalition of environmental and social justice organizations dedicated to supporting whole, healthy communities. The Alliance has initiated this toolkit to provide resources for communities vulnerable to the downturn of the extraction-based economy. Our ultimate goal is to provide a guide that will assist community leaders through the lifecycle of an abandoned mine land reclamation project– from defining community needs to building partnerships for projects in their area.

This toolkit builds on our learnings from an extensive and collaborative research project, which culminated in 2015 with the publication of the paper: Abandoned Mine Land Program: A policy analysis for Central Appalachian and the Nation

Who is this for?
We believe that community and resident participation is critical to the success of these development initiatives and that as community members we have the power and responsibility to influence development plans by engaging with federal agencies and local entities that are administering and applying for funds. We believe that sharing information at the grassroots level is essential to successful program management. The federal and regional funding programs listed in this toolkit emphasize a clean-up economy and provide opportunities for cross-sector, multi-stakeholder engagement.

What’s next?
The Alliance for Appalachia’s Economic Transition team is taking the show on the road with a toolkit tour through Central Appalachia. We want to share our learnings with you and are providing resources and support through a community-based workshop, training, and partnership-building opportunities. If you are interested in being a host site, let us know! We encourage you to reach out to your neighbors, expand your network, and talk to your local electeds, and community development authorities about your big ideas for community revitalization. Let this toolkit help turn your idea into action.

For more information about our organization,
or to request a copy of
Revitalizing Appalachia
, please contact:

(304) 691-0260

Alliance for Appalachia condemns white supremacy

The Alliance for Appalachia condemns white supremacy and all the organizations that support it both overtly and covertly. We mourn the many lives that are lost at the hands of white supremacist terrorism, and we vow to fight for the living.

We recognize that white supremacy is not simply a fringe movement of ignorant and unhinged individuals. Rather, it is an organized and funded movement with at least tacit support from President Trump and others who hold power at all levels of government. We also recognize that racism operates daily, ubiquitously, and anonymously. To effectively overcome this hateful and violent force, it is imperative that all of us–especially white people who directly benefit from systemic racism–organize, strategize, call out, and confront white supremacists wherever they show themselves.

We know that white supremacists are currently attempting to organize within our Appalachian mountains. While we recognize that racism is a serious problem in Appalachia–just like it is everywhere else in the United States–we do not believe it is the dominant force that these violent organizations are banking on. The Alliance for Appalachia stands with the many across our region who are demonstrating against racist hate. We are engaging in meaningful dialogue with our friends, neighbors, and family members about the threats posed by white supremacy, and we are working to liberate ourselves from our own internalized racism and other manifestations of oppressive thinking and behavior.

We cede not our hearts, nor our minds, nor our neighbors, nor our communities. We cede no ground to white supremacist hate and will not be cowed into silence or submission.

For the land and all the people,
The Coordinating Committee of the Alliance for Appalachia

Join us for a powerful 2017

We greet this new year with joy and thankfulness – for the wonderful people, our beautiful mountains, and our precious water in Appalachia. We also greet this new year with strength and power – we are ready to fight for our people, our mountains and our water.

The Alliance for Appalachia met in December to reflect over our past work and continue building strategy for 2017. We’ll be busy doing the two things we do best — bringing people together and fighting like hell to protect our water and our future.

If you’re reading this right now, you’re someone who cares about protecting our water and creating a diverse, sustainable future for Appalachia. You might also feel pretty lonely sometimes – like there aren’t many people that agree with you. The Alliance for Appalachia unites thousands of people who feel exactly like you do. Through our work, and our amazing member groups, people like you are uniting to fight the battles that you care about.

Are you ready to work too? We’d love you to join us! You can help by donating to our work, or by joining one of our work teams!

We’ll be sharing out greater details of our projects over the next months, but here’s a quick preview:

Clean water is what ties us all together. Across Appalachia, and across the United States, people are fighting for clean water. In 2017 we’ll join together with allies nationwide and locally to lift up the importance of our water and to defend this precious resource.

We were pleased to see the Stream Protection Rule was released in the last moments of 2016. It isn’t as strong as we’d like it, but we know it will help protect our water from the new threats we are facing from mountaintop removal coal mining. We’ll be fighting off attacks to protect our progress and working with agencies to see that it gets enforced.

We’ll also be keeping our eye on a slew of new mountaintop removal threats. Our member groups are leading the way as the first line of defense when their communities are threatened by new mining. We’ll work to lift up these local threats to the national level.

Our members are excited to dig into the issue of reclamation as a way to both clean up the toxic legacy of coal in our communities as well as bring in much needed economic development. It has been a great opportunity to engage with new partners and a great conversation starter for organizing in our communities.

Our economic transition team will continue to build on the success that the RECLAIM Act had in 2016. We’ll also work to complete:

a “Shovel Ready Toolkit” which will empower communities to take local reclamation issues into their own hands

our report on bonding, an important issue as coal companies continue to go bankrupt and leave the burden of destroyed mountains on already hurting communities

As always, we’ll be working to bring people together to create regional strategy and opportunities for action. In welcoming the new year we now have a new Coordinator, Christa Faulkner, to help to pull it all together. Christa based out of Beckley, WV, has a Masters in Counseling Psychology from the University of Louisville focusing on Expressive Therapies. She more recently attended Western State Colorado University to further graduate studies in Environmental Management, focusing on sustainable and resilient communities.

Christa’s undergraduate degree is in Studio Art from Eastern Kentucky University and she is a self taught web designer, freelancing since 2009 and contributing to social and environmental advocacy through multimedia design. She has contributed design work to the Coal Free Future Project, Art Meets Activism Grant projects in Kentucky, and individuals working on social justice in the region.

Christa joined AmeriCorps VISTA and served two terms after working as a Counselor and children’s advocate for ten years. She recently completed her last VISTA service year as the Office of Surface Mining and Reclamation Enforcement VISTA Leader in the Appalachian Region. She is passionate about the social, economic, and environmental costs of mining and the importance of preserving the rich biodiversity in the region. Born in Kentucky and living in Montana and Colorado influenced her decision to move back to the region and help others make the connection between our ecosystems and wellbeing.

Now more than ever is the time to unite in the face of dangerous policies that would divide our communities and take away our power. To that end we are working with allies to create a Collective Liberation training that examines the root causes of injustice in our region and our nation and is oriented towards concrete action we can take as individuals and organizations to create a more just and inclusive society.

To do this, we’ll need your support! Can you donate your time or money to help our work? To create member led strategy, we need the wisdom and input of our amazing grassroots members across the region. And we need grassroots fundraising from regular people – our members and our allies – in order to keep our work moving during these difficult times.

For the Mountains,

The Alliance for Appalachia

Reflections Over 2016

We have been spending the last tumultuous month since the election making plans for what our work will look like in 2017. We know we’ll be busy doing the two things we do best — bringing people together and fighting like hell to protect our water and our future.

But we’re sending out this letter to remind everyone what we achieved together in 2016. To remind our members and allies that we are a powerful, diverse and a strategic force to be reckoned with.

We encourage you to read about our work last year and to begin making plans for the work we’ll do together in 2017. Please donate to help make this work possible. 

Building for Our Sustainable Future

We started the year working with our Economic Transition Team to strategize around how to promote the POWER+ Plan. This turned into the RECLAIM Act, a bi-partisan bill which has the potential to create economic development in our communities by supporting the reclamation of abandoned mine lands. This powerful bill grew out of our strong grassroots movement.

A coalition of partners, including The Alliance for Appalachia, worked hard on this bill – from our lobby trips to DC in March and June, to a massive petition campaign. The bill didn’t pass this year, but it was introduced in the Senate just last week! This is great momentum to be entering 2017 with. A poll conducted by Public Opinion Strategies found that there is 89% support for the RECLAIM Act among registered voters in seven impacted states.  We’ll keep you updated on its progress.

Our team has also been working hard to create a Shovel Ready Toolkit – a guide for communities who want to jumpstart their economy and clean up their land by supporting the reclamation of dangerous abandoned mine sites and coal related infrastructure in their community. The toolkit would provide information on federal and private opportunities to fund reclamation and highlight stories from exciting pilot projects that are already underway.

Fighting for Clean Water

We went to DC multiple times to speak up for a strong Stream Protection Rule and the need for strong, permanent water protections for our region. In December, the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) released the final Stream Protection Rule (SPR) – this important rule acknowledges the devastating affect that coal mining has on our water and will go a long way towards protecting our mountain streams from mountaintop removal coal mining.

This rule didn’t happen on its own – it happened because of the tireless work and advocacy of people across Appalachia and across the country. The Stream Protection Rule is the first major federal update to protect water from surface coal mining in 30 years!

Gathering Together – In Washington DC

We took several trips to Washington DC in 2016, but our most ambitious trip was the “Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future” event in June. Some key numbers:

  • The Alliance hosted nearly 40 mountain leaders for 3 days of advocacy and empowerment.

  • We attended 35+ hill meetings with Congressional representatives to show our support of the RECLAIM Act, contributed to the gain of at least two additional cosponsors.

  • We also had meetings with 8 different federal agencies and executive administration offices that have key roles in protecting our communities from environmental injustice and poor regulation standards.

  • For at least 12 of our attendees, this was the first time speaking to agency and congressional representatives in DC.

  • We celebrated 10 years of The Alliance for Appalachia with an empowering party and fundraiser.

Gathering Together -Closer to Home

We also took many opportunities to bring our mountain leaders together to share strategy and learn from the experts – themselves, each other.

In March, The Alliance hosted a Grassroots Policy Training in early April that was a huge success with nearly 40 participants! The goal of this training was to educate our members and allies across the region on how to participate in regional and national politics, and especially how and why citizen involvement is so important in shaping policy.

We also hosted Steering meetings, opportunities for our amazing leadership to get together and create our regional strategy, as well as team summits where our teams could take time to dig into their areas of concern and learn from all the different efforts happening across our region.

This year, The Alliance hosted two celebration events in honor of our anniversary. We shared food, music, memories and lots of laughs with longtime friends and new allies. Our vision of a world in which we, residents of mountain communities, are able to determine the futures of our communities, a world in which all people have access to clean water, clean air and a healthy land base- that’s what keeps us going. 10 years and rising!

New Members and New Teams

This year, our Steering Committee approved a new standing team– the Leadership Development Team. This team’s work plan already includes a six-month facilitation mentorship program which is currently underway, and an anti-oppression/collective liberation training in February 2017.

We welcomed the Center for Coalfield Justice as a new member organization of The Alliance.  This grassroots groups is based in Southwestern Pennsylvania and has long partnered with the Alliance as well as inspired us with their tireless work for justice in the coalfields.

We also welcomed Black Warrior Riverkeeper to our Alliance. BWRK’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River watershed in the northern portion of Alabama, America’s #1 state for freshwater biodiversity.

With the addition of these new groups, our coalition now unites directly-impacted mining communities from Pennsylvania to Alabama in opposition to mountaintop removal and other destructive coal industry practices, and in support of a just economic future for our region.

Moving Forward Together

On election day, a lot changed. But there are many things that didn’t change. We are still united to protect our water from the threats of dangerous coal mining and to create the sustainable future that our people deserve.

We still know that mountain people are the experts of their own lives, and that we are stronger when we unite together.

With your help, we’ll continue to do that in 2017.

For the Mountains,

The Alliance for Appalachia

Support the RECLAIM Act

These are challenging days. But we are ready for action, and to begin the work to rebuilding our region’s economy. If you are looking to spread a little hope today, we encourage you to read this letter about the RECLAIM Act and sign this petition to help move this important bill forward. Then pass the petition along to a friend.

Dear friend,

My name is Katie Dollarhide and I was born and raised here in the Appalachian mountains of east Kentucky. I’m writing to ask you to do one simple thing to help support communities in Kentucky that are struggling with the decline of the coal industry: sign a short statement of support that I will share with my Senator Mitch McConnell and other members of Congress.

Click here to show your support.


Congress has the opportunity right now to bring $1 billion back to impacted states across the country to reclaim abandoned mines and create jobs and economic opportunities by passing the RECLAIM Act. But time is running short in this Congress.

When you sign this statement of support, your name will be joining thousands of others across the state and country who support a bright future for coal mining communities.

I care deeply about this place and the loved ones that make it home. But right now folks in the region can’t pull ahead no matter how hard we try, and many of us feel like our communities have been abandoned. We refuse to give up on these mountains, but we need some tools in order to construct our dreams for this place.

The RECLAIM Act isn’t just a five year project, it could be the beginning of our new future. It represents a seed that, with a little nurturing, will help my community and many others blossom and bloom. It would help us grow hope in a place where it’s been extracted.

You can learn more about why I care about this issue and why I think it’s important for us all to care by clicking the link here.

The time is now for Congress to get behind struggling coal communities and pass the RECLAIM Act by the end of the 2016 congressional session. Let’s bring our voices and hundreds more to the table.

Thank you for all you do,

Katie Dollarhide

Letcher County, KY

Alliance News September-October

News from The Alliance

Welcoming BWRK to the Alliance

The Alliance for Appalachia is just tickled pink as a possum’s nose to welcome our newest member organization,  Black Warrior Riverkeeper (BWRK). BWRK’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River watershed in the northern portion of Alabama, America’s #1 state for freshwater biodiversity. Patrolling waterways, educating the public, and holding polluters accountable for the past 15 years has made BWRK an important proponent of clean water throughout the basin, and their partnership with the Alliance is sure to benefit the entire Appalachian region as well.

Last year, after nearly a decade of grassroots campaigning, Black Warrior Riverkeeper won a huge victory over Alabama-based Drummond Corporation, when the company announced it would withdraw its request for state permits to strip mine 1,776 acres adjacent to the drinking water intake for 200,000 residents of Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

We’re so grateful for the important work of Black Warrior Riverkeeper and all our member organizations. With the addition of BWRK to the Alliance for Appalachia, our coalition now unites directly-impacted mining communities stretching from Pennsylvania to Alabama in opposition to mountaintop removal and other destructive coal industry practices, and in support of a just economic future for our region. Follow them on Facebook!

 Staff updates

The Alliance for Appalachia is hiring! The full-time Coordinator position is an integral role to the work of our dynamic coalition. See the full Hiring Announcement here and please share the posting. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but priority will be given to those received before October 14.

With this announcement we also bid farewell to Alannah Tomich, who brought a fresh and intuitive perspective with all of her contributions to the Alliance.  She has moved on to the next part of her journey, but remains connected to our work and dedicated to social justice advocacy. Thank you Alannah– we miss you already!

In the interim, if you have questions about our work or the staff transition, contact


News from our partners

October 17 Rally to Save Coal River Mountain

From CRMW: “Stand with Coal River Mountain Watch and friends to tell the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection to end mountaintop removal coal mining on Coal River Mountain and everywhere. This ongoing process endangers public health with airborne blasting dust, pollutes streams, increases flooding, and deprives communities of traditional use of the mountains and forests. Join us Monday, Oct. 17, at noon at the WV Dept. of Environmental Protection headquarters at 601 57th St. SE, Charleston, WV 25304.” Click here for more info on the rally.

Tennessee Citizens Participate in Bond Proceedings

This summer, representatives of Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM), Tennessee Sierra Club, and Tennessee Clean Water Network engaged in bond release proceedings for four mine sites in Claiborne County.  The groups participated in the bond release public input process, most importantly because they have members who live downstream of each permit area who would be negatively affected if the sites are not adequately reclaimed. Participants of the ongoing project include members from the affected communities and organizational volunteers and staff, all of whom have been involved in various steps of citizens engagement.


Through the process, they have learned how to monitor for bond releases, how to prepare for the bond proceeding, and how to request a bond inspection. Not only that, but the groups actively participated in the inspection by taking photographs, reporting on vegetation growth or lack thereof, logging GPS coordinates, and taking water samples. Group leaders said that part of what made the tours such a success was this division of roles, which allowed participants to engage with various levels of experience. After the inspections, SOCM, TN Sierra Club, and TCWN submitted comments in anticipation of the bond release. They are sharing what they’ve learned with other member groups of the Alliance through our Federal Strategy and Economic Transition teams, in hopes of supporting other citizen groups engaging in bond proceedings in the future.

Prosperity, Potential, Potential: A recap from the annual Brushy Fork Institute

Adam Malle attended the Brushy Fork Institute on behalf of Southern Appalachia Mountain Stewards (SAMS) and the Alliance for Appalachia this year. The story below is a recap from his time in Berea:

Let’s will begin with a little bit of background about myself. My name is Adam Malle, and as of March of this year I am a newly minted board member with the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards (SAMS) in Wise County, VA. Our organization works to fight Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining in Southwest Virginia. We recently succeeded in a 10 year fight to save Ison Rock Ridge a mountain threatened by mountaintop removal coal mining in the town of Appalachia, VA and settled a lawsuit with A&G Coalthat will assist in the remediation of two coal tipple sites in Lee County and the City of Norton, VA. We are members in a coalition of environmental organizations that make up the Alliance for Appalachia (AFA) where I am newly serving on the steering committee as the representative for SAMS. It is through the AFA that I was given the opportunity to attend the Brushy Fork Institute.

This being my first excursion to the Brushy Fork Institute, I came to Berea College with high hopes not knowing exactly what I was in for. I chose the “Beginning Grant Writing” track out of my own personal interest in the subject area and to help SAMS expand our fundraising/grant writing capacity. However, grant writing knowledge was not the only thing I gained from my experience at Brushy Fork.

During the three days of the annual Institute I gained a renewed sense of the extremely diverse yet interconnected grassroots efforts to progress our Appalachian region and a greater understanding of the importance of building leadership capacity and knowledge among our region’s people. It is easy to feel isolated working in rural communities, but coming to a place like the Brushy Fork Institute and connecting with people and organizations from all over Appalachian Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia puts on display the optimism and resilience that drives us all, on a local level, to build a better, sustainable and independent future for all of us.

I came to Brushy Fork with the expectation of increasing my knowledge to further the goals of SAMS & AFA and I did. Christy Bailey’s “Beginning Grant Writing” track took my cursory understanding of grant writing and gave me a foundation to expand upon. I now have a direction and the confidence to continue learning these new skills and ultimately increase the effectiveness of our organizations work. But the experience was much more than that. It was an exercise in hope, optimism, inclusion, expansion of knowledge and a sense of connectedness with our common goal of building a better future. Brushy Fork is truly a family and I hope I get the opportunity to participate many times more in the coming years.

Movement Momentum– let’s keep it up!

We Stand with Standing Rock

The Alliance and our members stand in solidarity with the indigenous led movement of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bill McCabe is a friend of the Alliance and a leader in the stand against mountaintop removal coal mining.  His message to the water warriors on the plains of the Dakotas, speaks to our common struggles and commitment to protect our water, our future. Read the full letter of solidarity here.

From the Indigenous Environmental network (IEN): “The U.S. Court of Appeals Sunday night [October 9] rejected the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for a temporary injunction to halt construction of the Dakota Access pipeline thru traditional unceded Oceti Sakowin treaty lands near the Missouri River. The three-judge panel issued its decision Sunday after hearing oral arguments from lawyers representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and pipeline developers Energy Transfer Partners earlier this week. The decision was based on a specific request by the tribe for the court to continue a work stoppage order on the pipeline within 20 miles on either side of the Missouri River.”

65+ Attend Appalachian Land Ownership Study Convening

Citizens around Appalachia and beyond– including academic and legal scholars, students, community leaders and organizers– attended the first planning meeting for a new Appalachian Land Ownership study that aims to update the landmark study published in 1981. Our friends at the Livelihoods Knowledge Exchange Network (LiKEN) co-convened the meeting as an opportunity to conceptualize the scope, methods, and process needed to embark on the collaborative research project, which aims to investigate how land use, ownership and tax revenue patterns impact our vision for a just transition.

While we are still exploring how we can support this effort, we see an opportunity for the Alliance and our member groups to play a huge role in ensuring the project remains community-based and citizen-driven from the outset. We see this project as an opportunity to build the foundation of a campaign to promote systemic change by addressing the longstanding challenges association with a land ownership model that has perpetuated environmental and economic injustice. Stay tuned!

In Solidarity: NoDAPL

The Alliance for Appalachia stands in solidarity with the indigenous led movement of resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bill McCabe is a friend of the Alliance and a leader in the stand against mountaintop removal coal mining.  Bill’s message below, to the water warriors on the plains of the Dakotas, speaks to our common struggles and commitment to protect our water, our future:

I am fortunate. I live in a portion of the Appalachian Mountains which have not been disturbed by mining, fracking, gas or oil wells, or other careless destruction of mother earth’s gift of clean water. I am one of the few so fortunate not to have had my water source poisoned. I am rich to be so lucky. I am aware that this gift of clean water should be honored and protected by those humans sharing the mountains that create that water. Therefore, for most of my life, I have joined with others willing to honor and protect this great gift. There are many in these mountains who have joined in the fight to protect mother earth and her gifts. There are many others who support that fight, but have not yet joined those who openly struggle to protect our gifts.

Right now, this very minute, there are thousands of brave souls that are sacrificing much to do that very thing. They are not in the mountains of Appalachia, but their struggle is the same as ours in these mountains. The struggle to protect their heritage, their spiritual values and their water. Their efforts are crucial to many beyond those gathered together at the spirit camps in North Dakota struggling to prevent the creation of the Dakota pipeline. Their efforts must be recognized! Their struggle is crucial. It is the struggle to protect the water source for millions of humans. The struggle to prevent foolish and greedy corporations who see only the dollar sign from building a pipeline under the Missouri River. The struggle to show the world that when people support each other and fight to protect their heritage and life giving water they can win against tremendous odds.

The thousands of individuals and the hundreds of indigenous nations who have united to fight the insanity of building a pipeline underneath a major source of clean, fresh water are respected, supported and admired in the mountains of Appalachia. There are hundreds of activists and multiple community groups who support you. We share your fight for clean water. We respect your history, culture and courage. And we love the bravery and unity you are displaying to the world.

I can only promise that I am one who will honor your effort each morning. I am one who will share your struggle with others in my community. I am one who believes together we will win this struggle. I am one who thanks you for showing us what unity means.

With love and support from the people and mountains of Appalachia,

Bill McCabe

Link to PDF version

July-August Newsletter

News from The Alliance

July Steering Meeting and Team Summits

July was a busy month around The Alliance while we geared up to host a Steering Meeting, two team summit convenings, and a 10-year anniversary celebration in Hindman, KY at the beautiful Hindman Settlement School.  

At the Steering Meeting, our member organization representatives came together to share collective space, recall early Alliance history at our 10-year juncture, and strategize our next 6-months work and beyond.  The Steering Committee approved a new standing team– the Leadership Development Team. This team’s work plan already includes a six-month facilitation mentorship program and plans for an anti-oppression/collective liberation training.

Takeaways from the Federal Strategy team summit include a renewed commitment to work on bonding-related research and ideas around how to navigate the presidential election and first 100 days of a new administration.  The Economic Transition Team’s summit focused on AML priorities, including continued work on the POWER Plus Plan and related legislation, and discussion around how this team is going to effectively share our collective knowledge with ours and other communities working towards a just future.

New Alliance Member Organization- Welcome CCJ!

In other Steering news, this summer we welcomed the Center for Coalfield Justice as a new member organization of The Alliance.  CCJ was formed as the “Tri-State Citizens Mining Network” in 1994 by a coalition of grassroots groups and individuals concerned about the effects coal mining had on communities and the environment. The people involved recognized the need to work together to build a strong voice in the coalfield community. Tri-State was re-organized into Center for Coalfield Justice in 2007 and has since expanded to work on fossil fuel extraction issues generally.

CCJ, based in Southwest Pennsylvania, has worked with The Alliance and its members for years. There are no MTR sites in Pennsylvania.  However, citizens there are dealing with other harmful coal practices, like long-wall mining and legacy mining issues.  Our shared experiences lead to collective learning and collective action, for the betterment of our region; we’re excited to be working together towards a healthy Appalachia.  Learn more About CCJ.

Celebrating 10 Years

We capped off our meetings with another 10th Anniversary Celebration, where we came together with food, music and memories. Check out our good-times reel…


Thank you Joanne Golden Hill Photography for the photos!

& Congratulations to Bill Price– the lucky winner of the Appalachian activist quilt!


News from our partners

Environmental Groups Secure Settlement from Coal Mine Owner to Restore Mining Sites Across West Virginia- news from OVEC

When the Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund (VCLF) purchased coal mines from Patriot Coal during the company’s bankruptcy last year, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates, succeeded in making sure that mine reclamation obligations were not foregone. The $6 million settlement will fund pilot reforestation and stream restoration projects on mine scarred land in West Virginia.


Movement Momentum– let’s keep it up!

OSMRE commissions health study on the effects of MTR

At the request of the State of WV, OSMRE will fund an independent examination of existing research concerning the potential correlation between increased human health risks and living near surface coal mine sites in Central Appalachia. Our communities don’t need another health stud to prove what we already know, but to OSMRE address the issues is better late than never.  See the press release here.

Victory: Appeals Court Upholds EPA Veto of MTR Permit

U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. affirms district court; finds U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reasonably and lawfully decided that huge mountaintop removal mine in WV would cause unacceptable environmental harm. Learn more from EarthJustice

Mark your calendars for the Central Appalachia Brownfields Conference

The inaugural Central Appalachia Brownfields conference will take place at the Marriott Town Center September 7-8 in Charleston, West Virginia.  The event will include sessions covering all aspects of brownfields redevelopment, interactive workshops, specialty training on remediation, and two networking receptions for community leaders, development specialists, entrepreneurs and project planners. For more information:  

Psst– Alliance representatives are also part of the presenter line-up! Get excited by checking out the Draft Agenda, then Register Here.

OSMRE to look at new rules to change self-bonding

Director of the Federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), Joe Pizarchik: saying the agency will start making a new rule to end the failing policy of “self-bonding”, which lets companies neglect the cost of mine reclamation, and push the burden to our tax-paying communities. See the announcement here. & Read the Press Release here.

June Newsletter

Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future- An Event Recap

Shout out from the Alliance to everyone who helped plan and execute our POWROF 2016 lobby event in Washington, DC, which was a major success.  By the numbers:

  • The Alliance hosted nearly 40 mountain leaders for 3 days of advocacy and empowerment.
  • We attended 35+ hill meetings with Congressional representatives to show our support of the RECLAIM Act, which may have contributed to the gain of 2 additional cosponsors while we were in town– Congressmen Roe (TN) and Polis (CO).  
  • We also had meetings with 8 different federal agencies and executive administration offices that have key roles in protecting our communities from environmental injustice and poor regulation standards.  
  • For at least 12 of our attendees, this was the first time speaking to agency and congressional representatives in DC.


When asked what the most powerful part of the trip was for them, one of the participants said, “I am always in awe of DC, and feel very fortunate to just experience being near this much power. But actually being inside senate and house buildings and interacting/taking part in processes, leaves me feeling like each citizen has a voice, and we can be heard.”

Todd Waterman is a volunteer with Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, an Alliance member organization based in Tennessee; the following excerpts are from an article that he wrote for the SOCM Sentinel about his experience at POWROF:

I jumped at the chance to go! If I’d learned one thing as an activist, it’s that saying “yes” to something I’ve never done before can be a tremendously empowering experience, and that so long as I don’t let my mistakes tell me I’m not good enough, they will tell me how to be better. If I had a lot to learn, that meant I’d learn a lot.”  [. . .]

“Research says in the US only the very rich influence legislation. Until we achieve campaign finance reform, lawmakers must keep their campaign donors happy. But I prefer to be optimistic. Activism, like voting, is a matter of faith, of humbly doing what we can knowing together we are strong. We progressives always win in the end, even if it’s often two steps forward and 1½ steps back: Democracy, Emancipation, Suffrage, Social Security, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, LGBT Rights. Can you name anyone who is revered for blocking progress whose time had come? We’re trying to forget the guy who said, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!” But will we ever forget the guy who said, “I have a dream,” and then put his life on the line to make it come true? I hope we can convince more of our lawmakers to become not the villains of the future but its heroes.

Together, we too shall overcome some day. I’m honored to dream with you.”

To read the full article, click here.

Citizens’ Petition to Amend Self-Bonding Rules, OSMRE seeking public comments

In early March, WildEarth Guardians petitioned the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) to amend its regulations on financial assurances to ensure that companies and their subsidiaries with a history of financial insolvency no longer be allowed to self-bond coal mining operations.  Now, OSMRE is accepting public comments on the petition.  

Once our mountains are destroyed by mountaintop removal, no one can put them back. However, coal operators have a responsibility to clean up the mess – otherwise our communities are left surrounded by toxic eyesores and dangerous water.

Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the lands they have damaged by mining. Because of weak and inconsistent laws surrounding this practice, the public is at risk for having to pick up the tab for the immense destruction of mountaintop removal and other damaging coal mining practices, while the coal industry keeps the profits.

The most irresponsible approach is called self bonding – or when a coal company simply promises they will reclaim our land after mining. And if the coal company can’t clean up their mess? The taxpayer is left with the enormous burden of cleaning up after their mess. Companies must set aside bonds for the full cost of reclamation to ensure adequate dollars for reclamation.

The coal industry is laughing all the way to the bank, and we’re left with dirty water and unstable lands.  We need you to comment today to protect our communities from this outrageous practice.

The OSMRE is taking steps to limit self bonding – and we need people like you to speak up to make sure the laws are as strong as possible. The public comment period is open until July 20You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

  • Sierra Club Action Link
  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: The petition has been assigned Docket ID: OSM-2016-0006. Please follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Mail: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Administrative Record, Room 252 SIB, 1951 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20240. Please include the Docket ID: OSM-2016-0006.

Appalachian Voices Publishes Preliminary Report on Innovative Mine Reclamation Project

Alliance member organization, Appalachian Voices is partnering with Downstream Strategies and Coal Mining Engineering Services to identify and analyze Abandoned Mine Land (AML) sites in far Southwest Virginia for site cleanup and redevelopment opportunities.  The goals of the project are to, 1) Demonstrate the need for and potential positive impact of the RECLAIM Act in the Southwest Virginia coalfields as the proposed legislation moves through Congress; 2) Utilize results to accelerate Virginia’s deployment of RECLAIM and other funds; and 3) Promote AML projects that are forward thinking and adaptive to the changing economic realities in far Southwest Virginia.  

The partners are examining sites individually to assess their suitability for economic activities such as agriculture and agroforestry, commercial and industrial development, energy infrastructure and recreation.  The approach includes analyzing existing resources (like community interest and capacity, and proximity to population centers, transportation, utilities infrastructure, markets, etc.) around potential sites to locate the most promising locations.


The full report, which will provide a general analysis of the 15 most promising sites identified based on clean-up cost estimates and economic impact, will be released in the early Fall of this year.  Phase 2 of the project will move the sites with highest potential towards shovel-ready status, meaning the plans are in place and the project is ready to explore funding sources.  From the report, “Despite oft-quoted from statistics about the region, there are numerous, diverse bright spots on the map of redevelopment, from commercial and industrial projects to agriculture and recreation.”

Appalachian Voices has been sharing their progress with other organizations in the Alliance and throughout Central Appalachia, providing a template and useful reference guide for other states interested in undergoing a similar process.    

Learn more about the project here.

Celebrating 10 Years in the Region– You’re Invited!

The Alliance for Appalachia is hosting an event in honor of the organization’s diamond anniversary. We are excited to celebrate 10 years of grassroots coalition building in Central Appalachia, 10 years of pursuing our mission by working together to fight the abuses of mountaintop removal and other harmful coal technologies, and 10 years of envisioning a healthy, sustainable Appalachia.  

We hope you’ll join us for food, drinks, music, and story sharing among friends and allies in the movement!  

Save the Date 10 years- Hindman

RSVP Here: Facebook event, overnight housing request

May Newsletter

We’re headed back to DC to

Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future

The Alliance for Appalachia will be hosting an event to “Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future” (acronym pronounced POWR-OF) in Washington, D.C. June 5-8.

We’re bringing over 30 new and experienced leaders from across Central Appalachia. Big thank you to our volunteers and staff who have been working around the clock to schedule dozens of meeting, arrange travel, plan meals and plan an amazing party.

Why are we going? 

1) Because mountaintop removal is still happening. We’ll meet with federal agencies to reiterate the need for real protections from current and future mining, and to discuss the need for reclamation and strong bonding programs.

2) Because we need to reclaim our lands to build a new, healthy economy. We’ll urge Congress to invest in the future of Appalachia by supporting the POWER Plus Plan and passing the RECLAIM Act.

3) Because mountain residents are experts of their own lives. This trip will build leadership and bring community residents to the decision-making table by providing the space to effectively participate in policy making that shapes the future of our region.

4) Because we want to celebrate!  We’re excited to commemorate 10 years as The Alliance for Appalachia with our friends and allies!

Can you help support this important trip? Donate here to help provide scholarships.

You’re Invited!
Celebrating Our 10th Anniversary In Washington, DC

Come celebrate and enjoy live music, a silent auction and fundraiser, homemade Appalachia-inspired food and drinks, and a walk down memory lane!

The Alliance for Appalachia was formed in 2006 with the goals of ending mountaintop removal coal mining, halting other destructive coal technologies and creating a just and sustainable Appalachia.

You’re invited to our 10 Year Anniversary party that we will be hosting in Washington, D.C. during our Protect Our Water, Reclaim Our Future lobby trip.

When: Tuesday, June 76-9:00pm

Where: Stewart Mott House– 122 Maryland Ave NE, D.C.

RSVP for the event on Facebook – and share with your friends! Not on Facebook? You can learn more about the event on our website as well.

We are also having a celebration for our volunteers and members in Central Appalachia– If you can’t make it to DC, or want to celebrate with us again, come to Hindman, KY on July 13th!

Self Bonding Comment Period Opens

We’re working with a national coalition of groups to organize a strong response to a new comment period from OSMRE.

Bonding is the process by which coal companies provide financial assurance that they will reclaim the lands they have damaged by mining. The most irresponsible approach is called self bonding – or when a coal company simply promises they will reclaim our land after mining. And if the coal company can’t clean up their mess? The taxpayer is left with the enormous burden of cleaning up after their mess.

Stay tuned to learn more about this process and to comment. We’ll need as many people as possible to respond to make this important rulemaking as strong as possible.